At the age of 16, Heather was faced with the toughest decision of her life—whether or not to keep her unborn child. In order to assist her with this decision, she attended St. Martin’s Manor in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. This setting allowed her to continue her schooling and contemplate her choices without being influenced by family and friends. She made her decision and when her daughter was born, Heather (then 17 years old) gave her baby up for adoption.
Thirty years later, I met Heather while working on an article I was writing for Vim and Vigor magazine. The article featured six incredible women (all 40- or 50-somethings) who were willing to share their life experiences—from their greatest challenges to their proudest moments—to inspire and uplift others and to serve as examples of how we are all capable of overcoming obstacles and creating a life of fulfillment and abundance.
During the interview, Heather explained that giving her daughter up for adoption was the most challenging experience of her life. She had to go through the grief process and deal with sorrow and her feelings of loss. Yet, by the same event, Heather also received a magnificent gift—she discovered her life’s purpose. She discovered that she wanted to become a labour and delivery nurse.
“When my daughter was born, the nurses were so great,” Heather said. “They were really kind to me. The moment they were transferring me from the stretcher to the bed I knew I wanted to become a labour and delivery nurse.”
It’s often through our hardest challenges that we rise up and become the people we were born to become. In her most difficult challenge, Heather discovered who she was born to become; and, today, Heather is a labor and delivery nurse. Helping mothers deliver their babies into the world and seeing happy families go home at the end of the day brings Heather true fulfillment. It also touches her heart that other teenaged moms (whom Heather has helped during their labours and deliveries) have thanked her for treating them with dignity and respect.
Heather loves her career, she’s happily married, and she has three sons (ages 23, 17, and 16). Reflecting back on her challenge, I asked Heather how she got through her sadness. She responded, “Hope. There was always hope that we would meet again.” Heather kept that hope alive and nine years ago she was reunited with her daughter Jessica. Today, Heather, Jessica, and Jessica’s adoptive parents have a close relationship…and, on December 30, 2009, Jessica will give birth to her first child. “I’m going to be a grandmother!” beamed Heather with pride.
What have been your greatest life challenges? Become empowered by them by asking, “What has this taught me about myself?” Perhaps, like Heather, you discovered your life’s purpose. Maybe you found out how strong and capable you truly are. Perhaps an experience helped you to become a better friend, less judgmental, more supportive, or a protector of others. In taking the time to consider what your experiences helped you discover about yourself, you’ll transform each experience—no matter how negative, hurtful, or painful it may have been—into something of value.
“You don’t have to necessarily like how you’ve learned those lessons,” Sharon Quirt and I wrote in our book, The Keys: Open the Door to True Empowerment and Infinite Possibilities, “but you can come to a place where you’re grateful for them because they’ve made you stronger. They’ve made you tougher, more aware, more conscious, and more capable. You can treasure the fact that you’ve learned so very much.” In this state of gratitude, your mind cannot use the memory of the event to control or defeat you any longer. You’ll no longer carry the burdens of the past—you’ll be free.
Be free and rise up. Free yourself from any negative feelings you have about past events by finding the gifts hidden within them. Then, use your discoveries about who you are to rise up and become who you were born to become.